More kids are getting healthy school breakfasts in Colorado and across the nation, according to a new School Breakfast Scorecard.

 More kids are getting healthy school breakfasts in Colorado and across the nation, according to a new School Breakfast Scorecard.

Last year, according to the Food Research and Action Center, more than 11 million low-income students ate breakfast at school - an increase of 320,000 from the previous year.

FRAC president Jim Weill said that number could continue to climb with a relatively new U.S. Department of Agriculture program called Community Eligibility, which allows schools to feed all students free of charge in areas where most are low-income.

"The advantage of this is, it eliminates the stigma of these programs being seen as 'for poor kids.' It eliminates the differential between what kids are eating. It eliminates paperwork," he said. "It's just fabulous all around to offer meals to all kids for free."

Nationally, in the past school year, 53 students ate breakfast at school for every 100 eating free or reduced-price school lunches - up by 10 children in the past decade.

In Colorado, more than 131,000 kids got breakfast at school during the most recent academic year, 8,000 more than in the previous year. According to the Food Research and Action Center report, 67 more schools started serving breakfast during that time, bringing the total to almost 1,400.

Cate Blackford, child-nutrition manager at Hunger Free Colorado, said eating breakfast in the classroom has benefits that reach beyond nutrition.

"One of the things that we've been really excited to see here in Colorado is that when kids eat together, they're all much more likely to participate," she said, "and what they find is that there's this sense of community and this sense of camaraderie in terms of eating breakfast and 'breaking bread' together."

When breakfast participation goes up, Blackford said, not only are fewer kids going hungry but it's also helping to improve their health, their behavior in school and their ability to learn.

The School Breakfast Scorecard is online at frac.org.